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The Western herbal medicine tradition represents a neglected and devalued repository of much of the knowledge developed over many thousands of years of medical experience in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Americas. Practitioners of herbal medicine throughout the world continue to make use of several hundred medicinally-active plants many of which have a long and established history. A few among these plant medicines have found popular use in recent decades - even to the point of reaching the hallowed shelves of Western supermarkets. Such plants include echinacea which stimulates activity in the immune system, ginkgo which enhances cerebral circulation, saw palmetto which is useful in the treatment of prostatic enlargement, and St. Mary's thistle which supports liver function. Yet the western herbal medicine tradition is far more than a source of agents that can serve as alternatives to more commonly available pharmaceuticals.
This post offers an in-depth discussion between two experienced educators and practitioners in the Western herbal medicine tradition. Mary Allan has taught herbal medicine in New Zealand and served for many years as editor of Avena, the Journal of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists. Vincent Di Stefano has taught herbal medicine in a number of theatres in Australia and is author of Holism and Complementary Medicine. History and Principles (Allen and Unwin, 2006).
The discussion explores not only aspects of herbal medicine, but examines the nature of healing in its broadest context ranging from personal and interpersonal healing, to planetary healing.
"The Herbal Medicine Tradition. A Long-burning Torch for Darkening Times", a short essay contextualising many of the ideas presented in this discussion can be downloaded in PDF form from the DOWNLOAD OPTIONS column opposite.
Vincent Di Stefano
Dice, Midnight in Lismore
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